You couldn’t have asked more from the South Carolina Gamecocks on rivalry weekend in college football. The Gamecocks came in not only having won their last three games against in-state rival Clemson, but also clinging to a sliver of hope to get a BCS at-large berth for a January bowl game.
Luckily, the game against Clemson went the way of the Gamecocks by way of a 27-17 victory over the Tigers.
Thus, the seniors from the 2009 class can enjoy a career sweep of their in-state rivals, and South Carolina can enjoy the first four-game winning streak against Clemson since the 1950’s.
But even with the victory over the No. 11 Tigers, the chances of a BCS at-large berth come January seem slim for the 10-2 Gamecocks.
The reality is that Florida, LSU and Texas A&M are all in better positions to get to a BCS bowl no matter how you slice it.
Whether it’s the one-loss Gators, who have beaten four Top 10 teams, the two-loss Tigers, who have only lost to the aforementioned Gators and then No. 1 Alabama, or the two-loss Aggies, who knocked the Crimson Tide out of that top slot with their Heisman candidate trending, South Carolina just seems to be the odd team out.
What is in the Gamecocks’ favor? Of course, the Week 6 demolishing of the now-No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs, 35-7 at home, is the big feather in their cap. Now with the victory over Clemson, that totals two victories for the Gamecocks over Top 15 teams.
What works against the Gamecocks, though, are the two losses against LSU and Florida in back-to-back weeks in October on the road. No doubt, they are quality losses (if there is such a thing) since both are in the Top 10.
But the problem is, neither LSU nor Florida have taken enough losses since to fall behind the Gamecocks in terms of record or ranking.
Thus, it appears—no matter you look at it, even in the afterglow of a victory over Clemson—the Gamecocks are most likely headed to the Outback or the Capital One Bowl.
Now, it is time to come clean.
Earlier this season, I was insistent that South Carolina could settle for nothing less than a BCS bowl game to view 2012 as a successful season.
Perhaps I was caught up in the zeal (as so many of us were) when South Carolina made that statement win over Georgia and looked poised for a position on college football's biggest stage, to the point that I said, “Anything less than a BCS bowl would be bust for the Gamecocks in 2012.” It was something to that effect.
How wrong I was and how arrogantly stupid…
After the two heartbreaking and devastating losses to LSU and Florida, the unimaginable happened when Marcus Lattimore was lost for the season and beyond against Tennessee.
The Gamecocks pulled through and managed to win their last four games to close out the regular season, even with starting quarterback Connor Shaw sitting for the Clemson game and Jadeveon Clowney battling injuries.
Maybe South Carolina isn’t destined for a BCS bowl game this season, and maybe they are destined for another appearance in the Outback- or Capital One-level of bowl games, but it doesn’t take away from another great season for the Gamecocks, who finished with at least 10 wins for the second year in a row.
And that is a tribute to many of the South Carolina fans here who were never blinded by the ecstasy of BCS grandeur to the point of calling anything short a bust.